Shadow Minister: Attacked for Israel trip after BBC criticism

By Robyn Rosen, March 25, 2010
MP Burrowes

MP Burrowes

David Burrowes, the Shadow Minister for Justice, has questioned the BBC's motives after it implicated him in its foreign trips investigation for his visit to Israel - a move made after he criticised the corporation.

Mr Burrowes, MP for Enfield Southgate, is among more than 20 MPs found to have broken rules on declaring hospitality in questions or debates after foreign trips.

In January 2006 he visited Israel on a trip paid for by the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Israeli MFA.

A BBC investigation found that in February 2006, he tabled a question in the Commons about Hamas, without declaring an interest.

He took part in two debates about Israel in the same year and declared he had been on a trip to Israel paid for by CFI, but did not mention the contribution of the Israeli MFA

He also signed two early day motions (EDMs), one calling for the release of two Israeli soldiers and another urging the BBC to reflect Israel's right to defend itself, without declaring an interest, also in 2006. Mr Burrowes, who has been a member of CFI for 20 years, admitted the error but added that there was an element of "irony" in the BBC investigating him after he signed an EDM which was critical of the broadcaster.

"I understand I should have ticked the relevant boxes; it was an administrative error which I have brought to the attention of the Registrar of Members' Interests," he said.

"But it bothers me that they have suggested it was free hospitality and a holiday when it was a very legitimate and worthy visit and appropriate for a Member of Parliament who has a pre-existing interest in Israel, and a large Jewish constituency.

"There is disproportionate attention, particularly by the BBC, to people who do stand up and support Israel when there are a lot of other targets which could be focused on."

Last updated: 2:23pm, March 25 2010